Startup Mavericks - a new Blog


You can now check out my new blog Startup Mavericks here which goes to bat for entrepreneurial spirit.


Valeria Luiselli


We Bought A Zoo = Sadly Beautiful Movie

Quick cup of coffee at Honey & Co

Honey & Co, 25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ Tel. 0207.388.6175

Recently watched movie: Cafe de Flore

Delicious Dell' Amore pasta sauce at Whole Foods Market, London

Goodbye First Love = Excellent Movie

Currently Reading

So far, this book is great

10 Great Films From Argentina

1. The Swamp dir. Lucrecia Martel

Pretty intense, especially the beginning: I think of it as sharing a little bit of mood with Dogtooth and Attenberg.

2. Family Law dir. Daniel Burman

A small and beautiful film about reconciling being a son once you become a father.

3. XXY dir. Lucia Puenzo

Ines Efron is incredible in this film.

4. The Holy Girl dir. Lucrecia Martel

Reminded me a little of some of Almodovar's films. Brilliant performance by Maria Alche.

5. Lost Embrace dir. Daniel Burman

Imagine Woody Allen relocated to Buenos Aires..

6. Suddenly dir. Diego Lerman

Very influenced by Jim Jarmusch's first two movies: it's a bit hit and miss but worth seeing.

7. The Fish Child dir. Lucia Puenzo

Ines Efron is again great, even if the film loses its way towards the end.

8. The Headless Woman dir. Lucrecia Martel

Pure Almodovar inspired melodrama.

9. Don't Look Down dir. Eliseo Subiela

A surreal film that doesn't always work. But there's something winning about it eventually.

10. Nine Queens dir. Fabian Bielinsky

A good 'Hollywood' style movie.

Bon Appetit Lunch With Jean Touitou Movie

Trailer for upcoming Batsheva Ensemble shows, Sadlers Wells, London

A.P.C & Vanessa Seward film (check out the box of vinyl)

Yayoi Kusama Reigns Over Selfridges, Oxford Street, London

Currently Reading

48 Hours in Bilbao, Spain

For a long time, I had wanted to see and visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. It's been on one of those 'Got To Go/ Got To See' lists, the kind you refine and add to all the time. There's always something amazing about fulfilling a long term travel wish. Earlier in the year, it meant fulfilling the years long fantasy of visiting Pondicherry, a little bit of France, dropped on the South East coast of India. And now, it was time to finally see the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The carrier was Easyjet from Stansted. Arriving at the sleepy airport in Bilbao, it was simple to catch the airport bus to the city centre (1.35 euros). It takes just 15 minutes and you sweep into Bilbao over the striking La Salve bridge and suddenly, there's the Guggenheim sparkling on your right. I've often found "great landmarks" to be not so great when you're actually standing before them, but this is not one of those: if anything, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim is more spectacular than you can ever imagine. Once off the bus, it was one minute walk to Hotel Miro. I'd seen Hotel Miro mentioned various times in travel magazines and kept a torn-out page about it in a 'places to go wishlist folder'. 

On checking in, the reception team said they'd given us a room (room 34) which had a view of the Guggenheim. And they weren't joking: the room had floor to ceiling windows which give you a beautiful view of the Museum first thing in the morning, late afternoon, early evening, last thing at night. At every time of day, it looked different...

I always like to orient myself in a new city by heading straight out to eat - whatever that means for the time of arrival: breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner - and a speed Googling back in London had told me that Cafe Iruna on Colon de Larreategui came well recommended for some old world Bilbao charm. 

Cafe Iruna  had opened in 1903 and runs today as a sort of gastronomic museum, the interior a beautiful snapshot of time stood still. On route to Cafe Iruna, navigating with an obligatory free hotel map, it was too tempting not to duck inside the Guggenheim. Out front, contemplating Jeff Koons' Puppy - a giant puppy sitting in front of the museum, made entirely of flowers (think vertical garden as spectacularly kept artwork) - it was headache to decide if it's incredibly kitsch/ bad/ stupid or oddly brilliant. (My opinion which jumped back and forth, over 48 hours in Bilbao was somewhat coloured by having encountered Koons' exhibition at Versailles a few years back - all that insane colour-popping kitsch in such a classical setting had eventually proved an irreverent smirk-fest that quickly wore thin).

A short walk past La Salve bridge, along the river, and voila, Jardines de Albia, a pretty green square with a Church and various restaurants and shops set about it. Seeing a crowd (it was nearly two o'clock) outside a run of restaurants, led the way to afe Iruna, with 'Bilbao 1903' proudly signwritten beneath its name.

After a very long lunch (Spanish time passes about a thousand times slower than London's) - which was hard work because I'm a vegetarian and the menu was heaped with meat and fish and therefore had to be the only options I could order: a basic salad and a divine plate of Basque cheeses, served with bread and dried apricots - it was time to slowly wander back past the Guggenheim...

and then back to crash for a siesta at the hotel. When in Bilbao...

With a plan to go to the Old Town (Casco Vieja) for dinner, having read about a bunch of great little restaurants and bars specialising in Pintxos (aka Basque Tapas) set about Plaza Nueva, the route there leads you to cross the river via the Zubizuri pedestrian bridge - a crazy, snaking bridge, which is one of various modern architectural highlights that have sprung up post-Guggenheim, to further enhance Bilbao as a wow city for architecture freaks.

The Old Town was earthy (what's up with the scattering of 1976 King's Road style punks?) and reminds in basic ways of the old parts of other Spanish cities like Seville and Cadiz. No one speaks much English in Bilbao which means asking for directions in car crash Spanish - making a slow route to Plaza Nueva and Cafe Bar Bilbao, which I'd seen recommended on Trip Advisor. The food was delicious...still not much for vegetarians, but at least there were some cheese Pintxos and some peppers grilled full of oozing cheese and rice. And some more amazing Basque cheeses, served with warm, honey roasted walnuts...

After dinner, came slowly heading back along the river (lots of people jogging at 11 p.m!) and then the crossing back over the Zubizuri bridge, complete with the spectacular night view of the river and city...

The next morning, it was pouring with rain and the Guggenheim sat on the landscape, all moody...

Once inside the Guggenheim, you are wowed by Richard Serra's The Matter Of Time, part of the permanent collection at the Guggenheim. Giant swathes of steel - reminding me of scrap at shipyards - loom throughout the massive room. Walking along the 'pathways' between the steel walls, you feel so small and vulnerable, it's otherworldly

And in a small room, the museum shows Serra's scale model planning for the work..

Other than the Serra work, the highlight of visiting the Guggenheim was getting to see Humans, a 1994 work by my favourite artist Christian Boltanski, which gave me goose bumps. Over a thousand black and white photographs of different people displayed over the walls of a small room, illuminated by ghostly bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling. I recognised the faces of some of the girls from an old Berlin Jewish girls' school photograph that Boltanski used as the basis for another work: beyond eerie. There was no need to visit the David Hockney exhibit, as we'd already seen it in London, so mostly, we just wandered about the museum, enjoying the incredible space. Jenny Holzer's Installation For Bilbao, became more intense the more time you spent with it. I enjoyed seeing the Julian Schnabel paintings too (I interviewed him once: amazing). Out back, by the river, you find Louise Bourgeois' Maman (the giant spider) which we'd seen before at Tate Modern, Yves Klein's Fire Fountain and Jeff Koons' Tulips. Everywhere you go, you are stunned by the view...

After a terrible coffee with terrible service at the Guggenheim cafe (avoid at all costs: I was served a stone cold espresso; the waitress took 10 euros for a 5.70 euros bill and didn't bring any change back: I had to ask her for the change in the end: to which she said, I thought you didn't want any change. Yeah right, I always give a 45% tip for a stone cold espresso that takes nearly ten minutes to replace with a lukewarm espresso), we headed to a street called Diputacion, apparently known for its Pintxos. We got lost though and ended up falling into a great and crazily long - the best kind - set menu lunch (meaning no Pintxos) at a no nonsense restaurant called Restaurante Monteverdi on Ercilla where locals were going mad tearing into cigars, cigarettes, brandy and wine! Dessert was a delicious Arroz con Leche and another dessert they called "Pudding Arroz con Leche" 

After that, time for a ride on the recently completed metro, designed by Sir Normal Foster, down to the Old Town

There, on to check out the stained glass ceilinged, old world charms of the Mercado de La Ribera, a covered food market

The market's situated just on the edge of the Old Town backing onto the river

Wandering back along the river up to the neighbourhood near Hotel Miro, suddenly an artisanal cake maker hard at work on Alameda Mazarredo..

Carrying on, it was time to see the city's so called 'green lung', Dona Casilda Park, which very vaguely reminded me of Parc Buttes Chaumont in Paris. And from there, popping out the other side and ending up walking around some really pretty, grand streets

Arriving back at Diputacion, here came an an evening of "Pintxos bar hopping": which meant an evening of trying out the Pintxos in one place, then heading to another and another and so on. I think four different Pintxos places hit the agenda, starting and ending up in the packed El Globo on Diputacion, which based on trying out a bunch of places all night, was by far and away, the best for both Pintxos and atmosphere...

Mid-evening, it was back to Cafe Iruna (a five minute walk from Diputacion once you know your way around): this time to their Pintxos bar, though, not the main restaurant. Check out those tiles!

My favourite Pintxos: a slice of baguette heaped with a melted Basque cheese and made spicy with some serious pepper; and a toothpick speared through green olives, a large salty anchovy and a jalapeno pepper. Full yet not full (the whole Pintxos/ Tapas concept always leaves me craving a well balanced meal), the walk back to the hotel was in that slightly chilled night air you only get on the first night of September...

The alarm went off very early the next morning and it was time to say Adios to the view from Hotel Miro - in particular the Guggenheim...